Pop Archives

Janice Slater - Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1967)

(Bennie Benjamin - Sol Marcus - Horace Ott [cr. Gloria Caldwell])
Australia Australia

Single on Spin by Sydney singer (b.1947). See also The Hooter Sisters.

It is hard to sum up Janice Slater’s career in a few words: pop singer, jazz singer, session singer, songwriter, vocal coach, soundscape composer, script editor, and dramaturge.

In the mid-60s she was recording solo, appearing on TV’s Bandstand, and singing with Sydney pop band The No Names. In the late 60s she was with Sydney showband Little Sammy And The In People.

In the 70s she recorded with Belgian violinist Raymond Vincent’s 12-piece progressive rock band Esperanto and with Australian female trio The Hooter Sisters. By the late 70s she was recording with a Sydney jazz outfit The Trio (along with four other musicians).

Along the way she has supported numerous big names in music, on stage and in the studio, in Australia and the UK, as well as distinguishing herself as a vocal coach and teacher in diverse areas of the performing arts.

Sources: 1. The most detailed account of Janice Slater I’ve found is by Kimbo at his History of Australian Music blog. Highly recommended. 2. Band personnel listings in Chris Spencer et al, Who’s Who of Australian Rock (2002 editions) 3. Jack Mitchell, Australian Jazz on Record 1925-80 (National Film & Sound Archive,1988) 4. Janice Slater credits at Discogs.com. (This would include only cases where she was listed in an album’s credits.)

The Animals - Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1965)

(Bennie Benjamin - Sol Marcus - Horace Ott [cr. Gloria Caldwell])
#3 UK #15 USA #27 Sydney #15 Melbourne #19 Brisbane #12 Adelaide #16 Perth

Single on Columbia January 1965 by British band with R&B influences.

Listen for a short violin figure from near the end of Nina Simone’s original. Then hear how it is used in the guitar and organ riff that starts The Animals’ version.

From near the end of Nina Simone’s version. [13 seconds]
The beginning of The Animals’ version. [8 seconds]

Formed in Newcastle as the Alan Price Combo, a quartet featuring keyboardist Price, they were joined by singer Eric Burdon, became The Animals and moved to London. Produced by Mickie Most, they took off with their second charting single, House Of The Rising Sun (1964, #1 UK, USA, NZ; #2 Australia), an almost 4½-minute arrangement of a traditional song. It would be the first of seven Top 10 British hits for The Animals in the following two years.

Nina Simone - Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1964)

(Bennie Benjamin - Sol Marcus - Horace Ott [cr. Gloria Caldwell])
Original version

Single on Philips October 1964, also on album Broadway… Blues… Ballads November 1964.

See also I Put A Spell On You.

This track was arranged by co-writer Horace Ott .

Hugely popular, genre-defying American singer-pianist Nina Simone (Eunice Kathleen Waymon 1933-2003) was classically trained, and her early work as an accompanist, piano teacher, and bar singer was seen as means towards becoming a full-time classical pianist. Musical encyclopaedist Donald Clarke characterises her work as equal amounts of blues, jazz, folk, gospel, show tunes, adding up to love and protest.

Sources, further reading: 1. Nina Simone in Donald’s Encyclopedia of Popular Music 2. Mariana Brandman, Nina Simone (1933-2003) at National Women’s History Museum

Santa Esmeralda Starring Leroy Gomez - Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1977)

(Bennie Benjamin - Sol Marcus - Horace Ott [cr. Gloria Caldwell])
Later version
#15 USA (Billboard) #7 Australia* #8 NZ | #10 Sydney #6 Melbourne #9 Brisbane #7 Adelaide #17 Perth | #2 Austria #29 Canada #1 France #1 Germany #1 Italy #1 Netherlands #8 Spain #10 Sweden

*Australian chart placing from Top 100 singles.

This rhythmic Latin-disco-flamenco version originated from the French independent label and production outfit Fauves Puma, founded by singer-songwriter-producers Nicolas Skorsky and Jean Manuel de Scaranoand. They formed Santa Esmerelda and recruited American singer Leroy Gómez for the group.

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood was released as a 16-minute track on Santa Esmerelda’s French debut album, distributed in the US by Casablanca, and a single was released in numerous countries.

Santa Esmerelda’s second international hit was a version of The House of the Rising Sun, another song associated with The Animals.

Merci à Philippe.